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> Live Solo Vs Backing Track, How do you get the best of both worlds?
Jim S.
post May 26 2015, 01:32 AM
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Here is a song which I wrote to get things going during practice. You can hear how it evolved from scratch but it's way TOO LONG so skip to around 17:50 to see some vocals and the guitar solo. The guitar solo is at 19:27 but it has a neat way it builds. https://soundcloud.com/division-bridge/live-practice-2-great-songs

When I got home I recorded a quick loop of the rhythm and wrote a solo for it. https://soundcloud.com/division-bridge/guitar-solo

What are your thought on them?

Thanks!
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Kristofer Dahl
post May 26 2015, 08:05 AM
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I liked both versions. They're also great examples of what differentiates a jam take vs a written one.

The jam take has so much more energy but lacks in production.

The written take is polished, more melodic, and without the imperfections.

Both are very cool - so what a lot of people do is to have a section (somewhere in the middle) that is improvised, to get the best of both worlds.

It's very cool to see you keep working hard and progressing! biggrin.gif


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Monica Gheorghev...
post May 26 2015, 09:31 AM
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I like the written version more smile.gif It sounds really great!
Definitely I'm not a fan of jam takes. For me are like discussions without a real subject.
Polished takes are usually well thoughtful and always will tell a story.

Kris has right and many people have in the middle part a special section for improvisation. I saw this mostly at Andy Timmons. But......I will add something. Even if we talk about an improv part we must have very well in mind how we let the song before this section and how the song continue after this section. I'm not agree with playing a bunch of notes without a story, just to show that we are cool. We must build a cool addition which will fits great with the rest of the song.

From my point of view in live concerts mostly of the "improvising" parts are not really improvised in that moment. Have a well defined base before. They build an improvisation live part using some pivot notes. Anything they will play around these notes will continue the melodic story wink.gif

This post has been edited by Monica Gheorghevici: May 26 2015, 10:09 AM
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Jim S.
post May 26 2015, 12:54 PM
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QUOTE (Kristofer Dahl @ May 26 2015, 03:05 AM) *
I liked both versions. They're also great examples of what differentiates a jam take vs a written one.

The jam take has so much more energy but lacks in production.

The written take is polished, more melodic, and without the imperfections.

Both are very cool - so what a lot of people do is to have a section (somewhere in the middle) that is improvised, to get the best of both worlds.

It's very cool to see you keep working hard and progressing! biggrin.gif


Hey thanks for having a listen here! Your right the live one has a ton of energy and it was a blast to play. Figuring out how to blend the vocals with guitar solos has been tricky and it really puts you on the spot. I have been writing a lot of lyrical melodies for this song and writing a few versions of lyrics. Hopefully next practice I can get to try them all and see what fits best. Monica I do agree that the live one has less substance but in there are little phrases which I have never played before and some that I have. Those tidbits that I never played before are so cool to come up with. I couldn't try to match the energy playing live that in my basement with headphones.

Well I'm more prepared now than ever and I am very happy I can share my music here. Thanks!
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Kristofer Dahl
post May 27 2015, 09:23 AM
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QUOTE (Monica Gheorghevici @ May 26 2015, 10:31 AM) *
I like the written version more smile.gif It sounds really great!
Definitely I'm not a fan of jam takes. For me are like discussions without a real subject.
Polished takes are usually well thoughtful and always will tell a story.

Kris has right and many people have in the middle part a special section for improvisation. I saw this mostly at Andy Timmons. But......I will add something. Even if we talk about an improv part we must have very well in mind how we let the song before this section and how the song continue after this section. I'm not agree with playing a bunch of notes without a story, just to show that we are cool. We must build a cool addition which will fits great with the rest of the song.

From my point of view in live concerts mostly of the "improvising" parts are not really improvised in that moment. Have a well defined base before. They build an improvisation live part using some pivot notes. Anything they will play around these notes will continue the melodic story wink.gif


I guess this goes down to how we define improvisation. In its purest forum, two different improvised takes from the same player should be so indistinguishable we cannot hear it's the same guitarist. However we all know how far from reality that is.

By comparing different live recordings for the same song - we can get an impression of how much improvising is happening. And for some guitarists it's quite a lot.

However for all guitaists, we certainly can hear the trademarks regardless of the take/song..


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Bogdan Radovic
post May 27 2015, 04:51 PM
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QUOTE (Jim S. @ May 26 2015, 02:32 AM) *
Here is a song which I wrote to get things going during practice. You can hear how it evolved from scratch but it's way TOO LONG so skip to around 17:50 to see some vocals and the guitar solo. The guitar solo is at 19:27 but it has a neat way it builds. https://soundcloud.com/division-bridge/live-practice-2-great-songs

When I got home I recorded a quick loop of the rhythm and wrote a solo for it. https://soundcloud.com/division-bridge/guitar-solo

What are your thought on them?

Thanks!


I have listened to both the live rehearsal recording and the one your recorded at home.

To me the one from rehearsal sounds much better in terms of overall impression. The recording from the rehearsal features drums and bass and first thing I notice is that the tempo is faster in the live recording and seems to suite well this song. From the recorded version 1:36 ending part of the solo and phrasing there sounds most effective to me. Since the solo is too long (was this intentional maybe though?), I'd suggest that you listen to it in a few days when it settles and just pick the parts which sound the strongest to you.

I have been composing some songs recently with the band using the "live approach". We would start with a riff or initial idea (chord progression, groove etc) and work together live on the spot to develop it into a full song. It usually sucks at the beginning but then you take the recordings home and pick out the "coolest moments" and work on the at home. Having this in mind, I think that you should shape this one into a final song.

In the recording you already have the following ingredients:

- main verse/groove
- vocals for the verse
- guitar solo accompaniment

I'd suggest working with band mates on arrangement of the song (where which part goes), you'll probably just need:

- intro
- chorus section
- vocals for the chorus
- maybe a bridge section if motivated and needed

...and putting the above in a song structure.

With this tempo you could aim for 3:30 sec song length and keep it short and effective with all the elements.
Usually the downside of live jamming approach to composing songs is that certain parts are looped/repeated too many times.
I've been recording an album recently with my band and it was surprising that our producer literally "cut" some sections such as repetitions of intro or sections between verses in half, yet when we were recording the song we thought that we have already shortened and simplified it smile.gif

________________________________

Live recording vs home recording (one by one instrument)

The first album I've recorded with my old band (Ljute Papricice) was recorded one instrument at the time. So it was laid down with first drums, then bass, then guitars, vocals and finally effects and other instruments. What was the problem? It didn't have enough energy and didn't replicate the live experience by the same band. Drummer played against a click track and you can always hear when the musician is "just playing" and when he is having fun and interacting with other people. So the benefits of this approach was that we were able to record pretty accurate performance (in time, in tune, in sync with each other etc) but it lacked energy. It wasn't bad at all, but it was a bit less dynamic and somewhat "flat" in comparison to live show.

Now, the second album I've recorded with another band (Bilbord) was done completely differently. We were all playing in the same room, live (with headphones etc) and the goal of the recording session was to capture drums and bass guitar at the same time. Guitars and pilot vocals were also recorded but not used much in the final product. The bass and drums were important though and needed to be played well. In first session we played along with the click track, but since we were all playing at the same time live - the performance was not robotically spot on in time (in comparison to the click track). This recording was cool but guess what, it lacked a bit of energy smile.gif It was better than one by one type of recording but still...not enough "mojo" smile.gif So we recording another set of songs just by playing live without the metronome beep at all. And guess what? Pure energy! smile.gif There was no distraction and we were interacting together as we were playing live and being in the same room. The mojo was there, we sounded like in the rehearsal studio or live but with a bit more precise performance that is good as album material. Out of these songs I only ended up re-recording bass for one of the "metronome" songs as we decided to change it completely - other songs were laid down live and "bought" for the final product. This was a bit of revelation for me as I was used to tracking bass at home, doing it in multiple takes, cutting and pasting and using all the technology tricks to get it down.

Thinking about it, maybe this "too much flexibility" of home or studio tracking is killing the mojo?

In regards to what Monica mentioned, I must say that I'm also a fan of composed takes/music in general. Including solos. I never liked guitarists who can't play the same thing twice smile.gif Now, I know that lots of people like the complete opposite of it so it's just a personal preference. Improvisation in the end (to me) is just that - improvisation. While composed music can have so many cool benefits. It's like reading a book, I'm sure I'd enjoy reading a draft novel of a favorite author but I'm pretty sure I'd like the final version more which is more refined, thought of carefully and which has gone through several stages of evolution to come to the step where the author is proud to present it to the public.





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Jim S.
post May 27 2015, 06:07 PM
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QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ May 27 2015, 11:51 AM) *
I have listened to both the live rehearsal recording and the one your recorded at home.

To me the one from rehearsal sounds much better in terms of overall impression. The recording from the rehearsal features drums and bass and first thing I notice is that the tempo is faster in the live recording and seems to suite well this song. From the recorded version 1:36 ending part of the solo and phrasing there sounds most effective to me. Since the solo is too long (was this intentional maybe though?), I'd suggest that you listen to it in a few days when it settles and just pick the parts which sound the strongest to you.

I have been composing some songs recently with the band using the "live approach". We would start with a riff or initial idea (chord progression, groove etc) and work together live on the spot to develop it into a full song. It usually sucks at the beginning but then you take the recordings home and pick out the "coolest moments" and work on the at home. Having this in mind, I think that you should shape this one into a final song.

In the recording you already have the following ingredients:

- main verse/groove
- vocals for the verse
- guitar solo accompaniment

I'd suggest working with band mates on arrangement of the song (where which part goes), you'll probably just need:

- intro
- chorus section
- vocals for the chorus
- maybe a bridge section if motivated and needed

...and putting the above in a song structure.

With this tempo you could aim for 3:30 sec song length and keep it short and effective with all the elements.
Usually the downside of live jamming approach to composing songs is that certain parts are looped/repeated too many times.
I've been recording an album recently with my band and it was surprising that our producer literally "cut" some sections such as repetitions of intro or sections between verses in half, yet when we were recording the song we thought that we have already shortened and simplified it smile.gif

________________________________

Live recording vs home recording (one by one instrument)

The first album I've recorded with my old band (Ljute Papricice) was recorded one instrument at the time. So it was laid down with first drums, then bass, then guitars, vocals and finally effects and other instruments. What was the problem? It didn't have enough energy and didn't replicate the live experience by the same band. Drummer played against a click track and you can always hear when the musician is "just playing" and when he is having fun and interacting with other people. So the benefits of this approach was that we were able to record pretty accurate performance (in time, in tune, in sync with each other etc) but it lacked energy. It wasn't bad at all, but it was a bit less dynamic and somewhat "flat" in comparison to live show.

Now, the second album I've recorded with another band (Bilbord) was done completely differently. We were all playing in the same room, live (with headphones etc) and the goal of the recording session was to capture drums and bass guitar at the same time. Guitars and pilot vocals were also recorded but not used much in the final product. The bass and drums were important though and needed to be played well. In first session we played along with the click track, but since we were all playing at the same time live - the performance was not robotically spot on in time (in comparison to the click track). This recording was cool but guess what, it lacked a bit of energy smile.gif It was better than one by one type of recording but still...not enough "mojo" smile.gif So we recording another set of songs just by playing live without the metronome beep at all. And guess what? Pure energy! smile.gif There was no distraction and we were interacting together as we were playing live and being in the same room. The mojo was there, we sounded like in the rehearsal studio or live but with a bit more precise performance that is good as album material. Out of these songs I only ended up re-recording bass for one of the "metronome" songs as we decided to change it completely - other songs were laid down live and "bought" for the final product. This was a bit of revelation for me as I was used to tracking bass at home, doing it in multiple takes, cutting and pasting and using all the technology tricks to get it down.

Thinking about it, maybe this "too much flexibility" of home or studio tracking is killing the mojo?

In regards to what Monica mentioned, I must say that I'm also a fan of composed takes/music in general. Including solos. I never liked guitarists who can't play the same thing twice smile.gif Now, I know that lots of people like the complete opposite of it so it's just a personal preference. Improvisation in the end (to me) is just that - improvisation. While composed music can have so many cool benefits. It's like reading a book, I'm sure I'd enjoy reading a draft novel of a favorite author but I'm pretty sure I'd like the final version more which is more refined, thought of carefully and which has gone through several stages of evolution to come to the step where the author is proud to present it to the public.


Bogdan! Nice write up, and it is nice to hear your recording experiences under various situations. I never thought about improvisation as reading a book. I too would rather read an edited edition. I also appreciate the fact that you've pointed out idea of playing the same thing twice. Since I'm singing now it's become apparent that the songs I write must have some point, some story or something to walk away with. Besides the above links I'm finding that when I'm playing with a band I need to remember that they need to shine too. Some people are not very outgoing and need direction or they'll just keep jamming on...

I have tons more to say but I'm pretty busy at work. Thanks for taking good time!

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Jim S.
post May 28 2015, 04:03 AM
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Ok so here is a more structured version of what the song may sound like. I couldnt really belt it out because Id wake everyone up And this was thrown together to show the other members of the band what the parts sound like. There is another solo and it's played over an altered rhythm. What do you think about this? Obviously it still needs mucho work..... https://soundcloud.com/division-bridge/super-rough-mix-cold-skin
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Bogdan Radovic
post May 28 2015, 11:11 AM
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QUOTE (Jim S. @ May 28 2015, 05:03 AM) *
Ok so here is a more structured version of what the song may sound like. I couldnt really belt it out because Id wake everyone up And this was thrown together to show the other members of the band what the parts sound like. There is another solo and it's played over an altered rhythm. What do you think about this? Obviously it still needs mucho work..... https://soundcloud.com/division-bridge/super-rough-mix-cold-skin


Hey Jim - this version is so much cooler sounding to my ears smile.gif

Here are my impressions and what I'd probably do with a song like this myself:

- Cut everything before 0:32 and start the song there. So it is a really short intro and then full band with drums blasts of into a mini intro solo before the verse
- work on a more effective ending (it could be just the verse groove repeated in some way or something)
- double check the verse groove, there is something which is disrupting the flow of it and it feels more complicated than it has to be. Notice how sections where you play more simple sound so much more effective (for example 2:42 section). I'd really simplify the guitar groove in the verses to bare bones. There will be drums which are playing a complicated groove as well as bass too so guitar is probably best left simpler here (and in turn more groovy). You could come up with a simple version of it and then stick to it - that way it will also act as a bit of hook as it is repeated all the same therefore has a chance of sticking in the head.
- Once everything is setup, I'd revisit the vocal melodies to have them flow nicely over the track. You've got tons of great moments in the vocal lines so no need to make too many changes there.
- Consider cutting the solo (at 3:00) to a bit shorter duration to make it more effective

This tempo is nice too but it would be interesting to hear this one with a faster tempo more like the one in the live rehearsal recording. BTW - if the song is going to be in faster tempo when band plays it, that is another cue to even more simplify the lines.


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Monica Gheorghev...
post May 28 2015, 11:31 AM
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QUOTE (Jim S. @ May 28 2015, 03:03 AM) *
Ok so here is a more structured version of what the song may sound like. I couldnt really belt it out because Id wake everyone up And this was thrown together to show the other members of the band what the parts sound like. There is another solo and it's played over an altered rhythm. What do you think about this? Obviously it still needs mucho work..... https://soundcloud.com/division-bridge/super-rough-mix-cold-skin

I like how your song start to shine smile.gif Also I like this solo and it fits with the rest of the song.
One suggestion. I don't know if I'm the only who have this feeling but I think the rhythm guitar has a tone a little muddy and put the guitar solo part in shadow.

This post has been edited by Monica Gheorghevici: May 28 2015, 11:43 AM
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Jim S.
post May 28 2015, 10:34 PM
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Hi Monica and Bogdan, yes on all accounts I agree. The tempo shall surely be increased quite a bit. It also seemed easier to sing faster. When I'm playing with the other guys I play differently and get more into the beat. I'm hoping with the practice that when we play I'll be way more prepared. Also the lead guitar sections will be without rhythm guitar so it will probably sound more clear.

I'll keep you guys posted! Thanks for all the help
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